Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews by Albert S. Lindemann V

Professor Lindemann writes:

* In 1884, for example, some sixty-eight liberal rabbis published a statement asserting that Judaism commands Jews to treat all human beings with love, if they themselves honor God and justice, whatever their religion. When talmudic literature contradicted that principle, which they recognized it did, the rabbis argued that offending passages must be considered merely the opinion of individuals, bitter over the persecutions they had suffered. Modern Jews, the rabbis concluded, were universalistic, tolerant and humanitarian.

However, Orthodox rabbis in Germany refused to accept this formulation, which they deemed insufficiently attuned to halakhic standards. (Pg. 150)

* Most Jews did not come to the United States primarily in a search for religious freedom but rather for immediate, pressing reasons, hopes to escape poverty most of all. The majority certainly did not come because they perceived the country as a haven of cultural pluralism. Indeed, it is anachronistic to speak of culturalism pluralism as an ideal for Jews coming from eastern Europe; such ideas were simply not part of their intellectual baggage…

…[N]ative-born Americans were never asked to accept immigration. There was no national referendum, no searching for political consensus concerning whether millions of Jews and other immigrants should be invited to the United States. No one can state confidently what such a referendum might have produced, but it is a reasonable guess that there would have been a solid majority in opposition to large-scale immigration. Jews and other immigrants came by the millions not because were in some sense invited by the American people but rather because of the “push” from Europe and the “pull” of the expanding labor market in the United States. The Founding Fathers had in fact been mostly hostile to the idea of large-scale immigration, and profound doubts about it continued to be expressed by leading Americans throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

But those doubts never found a powerful political focus… Still, prior to the mid-twentieth century, few if any non-Jewish Americans expressed much sympathy for Jewish separation, and the insistence of American ruling elites that immigrants conform to Anglo-Saxon linguistic and cultural norms was typically unyielding. But that insistence gradually weakened as American identity grew less narrowly associated with notions of a single “truly American” race, religious tradition, and integral culture…

There has been a slow but gathering consensus that American identity is properly pluralistic and open to all people…

One important reason that the rhetoric in favor of American exceptionalism was once so unqualified and prone to myth making was that the Jews who came to America found comfort in an image of themselves as opponents of European tyranny and bigotry, as a courageous people pursuing freedom — in the American tradition — rather than being “wretched refuse” driven by poverty. They pictured themselves as resisting not only the tyranny of European Gentile leaders but also that of rabbinical authorities and the Jewish upper classes, both of whom typically cooperated with Gentile authorities. Jewish immigrants to America long retained simmering resentments against the European Jewish establishment, secular and religious — another uncomfortable topic that has been almost entirely forgotten by the last decade of the twentieth century…

Earlier generations of Jewish scholars felt with particular force the need to stress how Jews had blended into American society…

American culture did not have the drawing power that the great cultures of Europe at the time [19th and turn of the 20th Century] had for Jewish secular intellectuals. Rather than being attracted, most Jewish intellectuals in Europe were repelled… Religious Jews were even more profoundly repelled by American life…

Compared to Europeans, Americans were nearly all rootless wanderers in a democracy of cupidity, commercialism and narrow self-interest. (pg. 252-254)

* What turned [Hungarian Count Istvan Szechenyi] so single-mindedly against Jews…[by his own account]..was his experience with Jews in a complicated series of trials surrounding the auction of an estate, during which a large number of them conspired in false testimony against him… (pg. 269)

* Then [1870s to 1880s] nearly everyone believed that Jews were hated for real, palpable reasons, for things that they did — or at least that large numbers of them did — not for baseless fantasies about them. Jews themselves forwarded this position at least as often as non-Jews, although Jewish leaders typically insisted that all Jews should not be held responsible for the misdeeds of a minority of them. It was also widely believed that hatred of Jews would diminish as they continued to reform themselves.

It is particularly inaccurate and misleading to insist that these anti-Jewish leaders were lashing out at targets they knew nothing about. Nearly all of the prominent anti-Semites of tehse years had regular, even intimate contacts with Jews.

The rise of the Jews in the nineteenth century — another form of “what the Jews actually did ” is a subject that has so far received inadequate attention or analysis in most accounts of anti-Semitism…

Many accounts of the Jews in the nineteenth century celebrate their remarkable accomplishments, but little effort has been made to relate or reconcile that story with the widespread belief that Jews faced terrible obstacles — crippling discrimination and pervasive hostility…

Similarly, although there were many crude and simple-minded anti-Semites, many other self-declared enemies of the Jews were of first-rate abilities and worldly success. (Pg. 271-272)

* It was widely believed, for example, that wealthy Jews were responsible for the Boer War (1899-1902). The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) was similarly believed to have been orchestrated by internationally powerful Jews to humiliate Russia, whereas the ensuing revolution in Russia in 1905 was considered to be the work of an unlikely alliance of Jewish capitalists, socialist agitators, and populist demagogues… Contrary to facile assertion, clandestine Jewish involvement, or actions by Jewish power brokers, did exist in these various events. (Pg. 275)

* The rise of the Jews, and the parallel, seemingly contradictory pauperization of large numbers of them, had major implications in the Russian empire, culminating after the turn of the century in a Jewish counteroffensive, inside and outside Russia, against the oppressive rule of the tsars… For many Russians, their country’s Jewish population appeared as a rapidly growing and increasingly hostile body, actively if secretly collaborating with those enemies.” (Pg. 280)

* For Slavophiles, men who believed in a special Russian nature and destiny, the traditional, religiously based antipathy to Jews was replaced with a secular one: Jews came to symbolize for them the threat of an alien and decadent West, of a destructive modernism, one that would undermine their hopes and dreams for Russia. Traditional Jews were objectionable enough to such Russian nationalists, but at least Jews of that sort were politically passive, respectful of authority. But as hundreds of thousands of Jews began to abandon their traditional ways and embrace western ideologies, they appeared ever more menacing — and were ever more menacing…

A rise in Russia comparable to the rise of Jews in Hungary, for example, was a prospect that Russian nationalists regarded with horror, to be prevented at all costs, in part because those nationalists plausibly concluded that most Jews in the Russian empire were not at all interested in blending, to becoming Russians…

Since the charge of Jewish aspirations to power was one that was taken seriously by men as different as Drumont, Zola and Gide, it is not surprising that Russian nationalists, facing a Jewish population a hundred times as large as the one in France in an economically backward, peasant country, were obsessed with it. They maintained that the peasants would fall under the rule of the Jews and would inevitably by undermined morally by their contact with them. In the eyes of such nationalists, the peasants, unsophisticated in money matters, borrowed mney from Jews and eventually lost their lands to them. Jews offered the peasants both cheap credit and cheap vodka, encouraging and exploiting their tendencies to drunkenness and improvidence… [M]any Russian nationalists believed that Russians, as other Slavs, were simply no match for Jews in a modern, liberal, and competitive society… (Pg. 281)

* Arnold White, an English journalist and member of parliament…predicted that if Russia were to “fling down the barriers to Jewish emancipation, not five years would pass before Russia would be Jewish. In ten years, every place of importance in the empire would be filled by a Jew.” One conservative Russian nationalist warned that “the Jewish force is extraordinary, almost superhuman.” The reactionary minister…Konstantin Pobedonostsev (1827-1907)…openly defended Russia’s discriminatory policies by asserting that Jews were natively more intelligent, more aggressive, and more inclined to seek an education than was the mass of the Russian population. (Pg. 282)

* Tsarist ministers repeatedly complained that the Jews were unusually prone to joining revolutionary socialist movements, a complaint made as well Jewish employers. Several ministers also charged that the Jews were extraordinarily successful as capitalists. There was truth to both of those assertions. (Pg. 285)

* The governor of the province of Bessarabia, Prince Urussov, a liberal nobleman who was widely recognized as friendly to the Jews…commented…that the judges he encountered in the province in 1904 “unanimously declared that not a singe lawsuit, criminal or civil, can be properly conducted if the interests of the Jews are involved. In civil suits…[the Jews arrange] fictitious deals and contracts, …concealment of property, and usury…hidden in legal guise. Criminal cases… afford the Jews a chance to fill the court with false witnesses set against one another.”

Jews were understandably inclined to evade laws that they considered unfair… Jews gained a reputation of being inveterate liars when dealing with the authorities. A Yiddish-language paper in the United States wrote that even after leaving Russia and dealing with American or German authorities, “Our Jews love to get themselves tangled up with dishonest answers,” or they get themselves into trouble by offering bribes to officials unaccustomed to receiving them. (Pg. 289)

* A parallel concern to Nicholas and his high officials [in Russia] was their belief that a number of powerful Jewish financiers were working ever more openly and effectively to deny the country the financial aid it sought. There was some foundation to that belief. A most tenacious enemy of tsarist Russia was Jacob H. Schiff, the American financier. Schiff played a crucial role not only in denying the Russians the bonds they sought in the international market to finance the war but also even more decisively in providing financial support for Japan, which then so humiliatingly defeated Russia. In Great Britain, Lucien Wolf, joined by the English Rothschilds and, in Central Europe, Paul Nathan, led the efforts to isolate Russia both economically and diplomatically.

By this time American Jews had begun to claim a leading role in international Jewish affairs. Schiff delighted in the way he and other Jews had been able to contribute to the humbling of the great Russian Empire. He boasted that after its humiliation in the Russo-Japanese War, Russia had come to understand that “international Jewry is a power after all.” …When Count Witte arrived in the United States to negotiate a peace treaty with Japan, he was contacted by Simon Wolf, another American Jewish leader and long-time confidants of presidents, who told him that Russia needed two things, money and friends. He added, “The Jews of the world, as citizens of their respective countries, control much of the first… There is no use disguising the fact that in the United States the Jews form an important factor in the formation of public opinion and in the control of finances… By virtue of their mercantile and financial standing in this country they are exercising an all-potent and powerful influence.”

…Observers as different as Winston Churchill and Theodore Herzl firmly believed that international Jewry exercised enormous power in international relations. Arnold White, who praised Russia’s Jews as the “most virtuous and prolific race” in the tsar’s empire, wrote that the European press and international finance were in Jewish hands, and that “the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of England alter their policy and abandon an important bill in parliament at the frown of the Rothschilds.” He concluded that Jews were making “monotonous progress toward the mastery of the world.”

Russia’s minister of foreign affairs, Count Vladimir Nikolaevich Lamsdorf, informed the tsar that the Revolution of 1905 had been “actively supported and partly directed by the forces of universal Jewry,” led by the Alliance Israelite Universelle, which had “gigantic pecuniary means” and an “enormous membership.” …[Jacob] Schiff was both supporting the Japanese and financing revolutionary socialist agitation among the Russian prisoners of war taken by Japan. His agent in that operation boasted that he had won over thousands of soldiers to revolutionary socialism. In short, one of the more improbable fantasies of anti-Semites like Lamsdorf, that Jewish capitalists were supporting socialist revolutionaries, had at least that limited basis in fact.(Pg. 302, 303)

* As Prince Carol stated the matter, paralleling the views of the Slavophiles, Jews were a people whose superior industry and inferior morals allowed them to exploit and take advantage of the simple and good-natured Romanian people.

* Modern Jewish nationalism, or Zionism…may be viewed as a logical conclusion to a growing Jewish combativeness, from at least the 1880s, ranging from the groups in Russia that began to take up arms against pogromists to those in western Europe that decided finally to enter Jewish defense organizations, joining the propaganda war against those who defamed them.

The Zionist phenomena may be considered an aspect of the failure of the liberal ideals of the earlier part of the century or of the weakening of hopes for Jewish integration into Europe’s modern nation states… It might also be considered a corroboration, by eloquent Jewish leaders, of the charges made by anti-Semites that there was something deep in Jewish consciousness that finally could not accept absorption into a modern nationalist identity. That Zionism seemed to corroborate anti-Semitic charges is one of the reasons that many assimilated Jews reacted so angrily at first to its appearance.

Zionism, with its insistence that Jewish nationalism was more natural for Jews than becoming members of the French or German nations, undoubtedly suggested an emphatic break with prevailing modern Jewish consciousness in Europe…

The fine gradations and range of opinion within Zionism were only a part of the dizzying, fiercely hostile divisions within the Jewish world as a whole by the end of the nineteenth century… It is particularly remarkable that this kind of strident insult and reckless divisiveness assumed such deadly earnestness at the same time that a belief by non-Jews in international Jewish collaboration seems to have been spreading as never before…

Jews were no doubt rejected by Gentiles in this period, but many of those Gentiles earnestly believed that they and their values had been rejected by Jews, that Jews were not living up to the concessions they implicitly accepted when they gained civil emancipation… [M]any Jews began to understand more fully that most Gentiles expected them to “disappear,” dropping all distinctively Jewish traits, allegiances, or habits of mind…

This dialogue of the deaf between Jew and non-Jew ultimately went back to the flawed assumptions on both sides, of civil emancipation in the first place. The honeymoon was over, divorce was being contemplated. (Pg. 320-322)

One of the more unexpected aspects of this budding Jewish nationalist [Theodore Herzl] was his often graphically expressed contempt for his own people and his last admiration for the Gentile world, especially its aristocracy…

One scholar…has provocatively stated that Herzl “sought Jewish power in order to make Jews into Gentiles.” (Pg. 324)

* The distinguished historian of Austria-Hungary, Henry Wickham Steed…offered that [Karl] Lueger “in the long run rendered a service to the Jews themselves by compelling them, under pressure, to observe a circumspection of which they had previously seemed incapable. The better Jews, indeed, soon recognized that Lueger had been a blessing in disguise by tempering the immoderation that is a prominent Jewish failing.” (Pg. 346)

* Houston Stewart Chamberlain…spoke of an inner, spiritual struggle against Jewish influence, not a physical battle against Jewish individuals or groups. The struggle was necessary in order to preserve a distinct German character. His concern was not radically different in that regard from the concerns of the Zionists… Indeed, nationalists in many areas feared that their identity was being overwhelmed, and all urged a struggle against the forces that were undermining the true identity of their people. (Pg. 354)

* Beatrice Potter Webb…marveled at how the Jew from eastern Europe “suffers oppression and bears ridicule with imperturbable good humor,” remaining silent “in the face of insult and abuse.” Jews were capable of such abnegation…as part of a larger Jewish strategy “to overcome.” “Why bluster and fight when you manipulate and control in secret?”

…Webb emphasized that it was the superior intellect and flexible morality of the Jews that allowed them to succeed… Jews were “brain workers,” whereas non-Jews were “manual workers.” …Webb described the eastern European Jews as unaffected by considerations that inhibited native small scale capitalists, such as personal reputation and dignity, class loyalty, or traditions of honesty in a given trade. Low-quality products, ruthless competition, and exploitation of those who worked for them allowed Jews to succeed rapidly. She concluded, “in short, the foreign Jew totally ignores all social obligations.” In these Jewish qualities, she continued, were to be found the reasons for anti-Semitism: resentment over Jewish success, fear of Jewish power, distaste for Jewish ruthlessness…

She praised Jews as attentive parents, reliable and diligent workers, charitable to their own kind. They were much less inclined to alcoholic abuse than workers of English or Irish background. (Pg. 364-365)

* Walter Rathenau wrote in 1897 to his fellow Jews: “Look at yourselves in the mirror! This is the first step toward self-criticism. Nothing, unfortunately, can be done about the fact that all of you look frighteningly alike and that your individual vices, therefore, are attributed to all of you. Neither will it console you that in the first place your east Mediterranean appearance is not very well appreciated by the northern tribes. You should therefore be the more careful not to walk about in a loose and lethargic manner, and thus become the laughingstock of a race brought up in a strictly military fashion . As soon as you have recognized your unathletic build, your narrow shoulders, your clumsy feet, your sloppy roundish shape, you will resolve to dedicate a few generations to the renewal of your outer appearance. During that time you will refrain from donning the costumes of the lean Anglo-Saxons, in which you look like a dachshund dressed up like a greyhound. You will not offend nature by wearing a sailor’s dress on the beach, or half-stockings in the Alps. I do not know what the people of Israel looked like in Palestine — their contemporaries do not seem to share their beauty — but two thousand years misery cannot but leave marks too deep to be washed away by eau de cologne.”

* Jewish journalist Kurt Tucholsky wrote after WWI: “During the three and a half years of war I hid wherever, however I could. I regret that I did not have the courage, like the great Karl Liebknecht, to refuse military service. For that I am ashamed. So I did what was generally done: I used any means in order not to be shot or to shoot at anyone — and sometimes these were the worst kinds of means. There was no trickery, no bribery, no matter how punishable, that I would have avoided. Many others did the same.” (Pg. 400)

* Many were willing to recognize, as one observer stated, that “in the war Jews took part in great numbers as Englishmen, Frenchmen, Americans, and so forth,” but they were inclined to doubt the meaning of that participation. (Pg. 401)

* Churchill and others argued that Jewish financial clout and the control of the news media by Jews were compelling reasons to have themo n Great Britain’s side. (Pg. 415)

* Balfour doubted that most Jews could or would become genuinely English… Balfour was “in agreement with the cultural antisemites, insofar as we believe that Germans of the Mosaic faith are an undesirable, demoralizing phenomenon.” (Pg. 416)

* State Department professionals came to resent bitterly what they considered a Jewish power so great that it was able to contravene completely the established role of the State Department. (Pg. 417)

* …this mystic and mysterious race had been chosen for the supreme manifestations, both of the divine and the diabolical… [Jews have been] the mainspring of every subversive movement during the nineteenth century… [They have now] gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.” (Winston Churchill)

* …I.N. Steinberg, an Orthodox Jew but also a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, who served in the second Bolshevik government from December 1917 to March 1918. He continued to observe kashrut, Sabbath, and the obligations to daily prayer, surrounded by aggressive atheists, the Gentiles among whom gave a new meaning to shabbes goy by carrying his briefcase to Saturday meetings. (Pg. 428)

* …the dreaded Cheka, or secret police, where the Jewish revolutionaries became visible in a terrifying form.

* the first twenty years of the Bolshevik Party the top ten to twenty leaders included close to a majority of Jews. Of the seven “major figures” listed in The Makers of the Russian Revolution, four are of Jewish origin, and of the fifty-odd others included in the list, Jews constitute approximately a third… (Pg. 429-430)

* …Moisei Solomonovich Uritsky, notorious as the chief of the Cheka in Petrograd, where the Red Terror raged with special brutality. For anti-Semites he became the personification of “Jewish terror against the Russian people.” Unlike most other Jewish Bolsheviks, Uritsky was born into an Orthodox family inside the Pale. His mother had even hoped he would become a rabbi. (Pg. 431)

* Lenin…was Jewish enough to have fallen under the shadow of doubt in Nazi Germany or to have been accepted in the state of Israel. (Pg. 432)

* Mikhail Kalinin…concern for Jewish welfare was so strong and apparently sincere that Jewish Bolsheviks considered him “more Jewish than the Jews.” In a much noted episode, he broke down crying and was unable to finish a speech in which he was describing the killing of Jews in the pogroms of the civil war….

Even in Russia there were some non-Jews, whether Bolsheviks or not, who respected Jews, praised them abundantly, imitated them, cared about their welfare, and established intimate friendships or romantic liasons with them. Lenin was of course considered jewified, if not exactly Jewish, by anti-Semites. As noted, he openly and repeatedly praised the role of the Jews in the revolutionary movement; he was one of the most adamant and consistent in the party in his denunciations of pogroms and anti-Semitism more generally. After the revolution, he backed away from his earlier resistance to Jewish nationalism…

The backgrounds and personal contacts of non-Jews such as Lenin, Kalinin, and Dzerzhinsky help explain how it was that so many observers believed the Bolsheviks were mostly Jews or were in some way under Jewish tutelage. The various refinements of Jewishness — traditional Jew, reform Jew, cultural Jew, half-Jew, non-Jewish Jew, self-hating Jew, Karaite, jewified Gentile — did not have much meaning to most of those who were in a life-and-death struggle with the Bolsheviks and who of course were not used to seeing Jews in any position of political authority in Russia… The leaders of the anti-Bolshevik White armies were convinced that they were fighting Jews… To most of the Whites the differences between the various revolutionary factions were of little importance; they all appeared alien, foreign in inspiration, jewified, and destructive. (Pg. 432-434)

* Churchill, in discussing the leading role of Jews in the Bolshevik Party, observed that “this amazing race has created another system of morality and philosophy, this one saturated with as much hatred as Christianity was with love.” (Pg. 434)

* German historian Ernst Holte [explained] the Holocaust as stemming from Hitler’s fear of the Bolsheviks’ “Asiatic deeds.” Destruction of the Jews by the Nazis was from this perspective to be considered a preventative measure, ultimately one of self-defense. (Pg. 434)

* Fear of Jewish radicals and revolutionaries added significantly to a change of opinion in favor of restricting immigration in the United States. (Pg. 435)

* One of the first measures taken by the Provisional Government [in Russia in 1917] was a decree conferring complete civil equality upon Russia’s Jews…

Henry Wickham Steed later wrote that the events of 1917 represented a massive victory for “the Jews”: “The joy of Jewry at these events [civil emancipation and then the Bolshevik takeover] was not merely the joy of triumph over an oppressor; it was also gladness at the downfall of hostile religious and semi-religious institutions.” He added that “potent international financial interests were at work in favour of the immediate recognition of the Bolsheviks.”

The state of Jewish-Gentiles relations by late 1917 was incomparably more envenomed, more filled with mutual fear and suspicion, that it might have been had the tsar granted civil equality to the Jews in, say 1900…

Large numbers of individual Jews assumed, for the first time in modern history, a major role in the government of non-Jewish peoples. (Pg. 437-438)

* The implication of this idea of the spread of revolution to Russia’s neighbors, and eventually to the world, closely resembled a fantasy of the anti-Semites: That the Jews, in the guise of proletarian revolutionaries, sought to rule the world. (Pg. 440)

* In the 1917 election, Jews cast most of their votes for the Zionists and nonsocialist parties.

* Felix Dzerzhinsky’s close affiliations with Jews continued in the Cheka, notably and notoriously with Uritsky, the head of the Cheka in Petrograd. In some areas, for example, the Ukraine, the Cheka leadership was overwhelmingly Jewish. By early 1919 Cheka organizations in Kiev were 75 percent Jewish… Chekists in Kiev went on a rampage of random violence, rape, and looting, led by a Jewish “riffraff that was incapable of other work, cut off from the Jewish community, although careful to spare fellow Jews.” (Pg. 442)

* Given the high proportion of Jews in the revolutionary movement and their generally higher educational levels, it is not surprising that many of them turned to intelligence activity… Comparisons to the secret police in Nazi Germany have tempted many observers, as has the suggestion that the Nazis learned from, even copied, the Bolsheviks… [T]he extent to which both Cheka and Gestapo leaders prided themselves in being an elite corps, characterized by unyielding toughness — unmoved by sympathy for their often innocent victims and willing to carry out the most stomach-turning atrocities in the name of an ideal — is striking. (Pg. 443)

* We have seen how in the West denunciations of Jews as slackers and war profiteers were widespread by 1916, as was the belief that Jews were both psychologically and physically unsuited for combat. In Russia, the stereotype of the Jew as physically weak and unenthusiastic about military service was even more pervasive… “Jews do all the ordering and never go under fire themselves.”

* Trotsky’s concern that the non-Jewish masses might perceive the Jews as privileged in the new regime was widely shared in the Party. Partly in response to such concerns, a special commission to deal with Jewish issues was created under the Commissariat of Nationalities. This Yevseksiia (Jewish Section), led by Jews, was assigned the task of bringing the Jewish population into harmoney with the principles of communism… The leaders of the Yevseksiia attacked Jewish religion with special ferocity, arguing that unless Judaism was forthrightly denounced as a tool of reactionary forces, the masses would not understand the regime’s attacks on Christianity.

For those ordinary Jews who retained attachments to the traditions of their ancestors, the Yevseksiia loomed as a form of the Red Terror…(Pg. 444)

* The number of Jews involved in the terror and counterterror of this period is striking… These many Jewish terrorists helped to nurture, even when they killed Jewish Chekists, the belief that Jews, especially once they had broken from the confines of their traditional faith, turned naturally to fanaticism and anarchic destructiveness.

An even more important institution than the Cheka in defending the revolution was the Red Army, again, Jews played a key role in its leadership. (Pg. 446)

* Paul Johnson: “Trotsky taught Lenin the significance of workers’ soviets and how to exploit them. It was Trotsky who personally organized and led the armed uprisings which actually overthrew the Provisional Government and placed the Bolsheviks in power. It was Trotsky who created…the Red Army, and who ensured the physical survival of the new Communist regime during the Civil War…”

* Trotsky’s boundless self-confidence, his notorious arrogance, and sense of superiority were other traits often associated with Jews.

* Stalin…spoke out against anti-Semitism throughout his career… Both his son and daughter married Jews. (Pg. 448)

* Permanent Revolution could be perceived as a cosmopolitan ideology, one that appealed to the rootless and countryless — in short, the Jews. (Pg. 450)

* Jews were never purged explicitly as Jews in the Soviet Union, and millions of them survived the worst years of Stalin’s terror. (Pg. 455)

* Tribalism and resentment, often pushed to violent fury, characterized virtually all parties and movements that have been designated as fascist; “the enemy” played a key role in the fascists’ ability to mobilize their followers, and the Jew was usually seen as prominent among the enemies that fascists faced.

Yet anti-Semitism was not quite so pervasive, powerful, or universal among fascists as many assumed. It is not widely recognized, for example, that hatred of Jews played almost no role in the early years of the pioneer, model fascist movement in Italy. Native-born Italian Jews themselves were attracted in large numbers to Mussolini’s banners. In other fascist movements, too (in Holland, Finland, Spain, Bulgaria), anti-Semitism was not of major importance. (Pg. 457)

* “Nothing will ever make me believe that biologically pure races can be shown to exist today… National pride has no need of the delirium of race.” (Mussolini)

* “Fascism does not require that Jewry should renounce its religious traditions, its ritual usages, its national memories, or its racial peculiarities. Fascism only requires that the Jews should recognize the national ideals of Italy… Wherever I have detected the faintest trace of anti-Semitic discrimination in the life of the State, I have at once suppressed it.” (Mussolini)

* “[Mussolini] is a man of great genius, a spiritual heir of the prophets of Israel. We Jews..remain struck with admiration by the noble figure of Il Duce, powerful, gifted with amazing — I would say almost say divine — qualities. No, the true Jew does not follow fascism…out of opportunism… The true Jew considers fascism as a providential phenomenon, meant to take him back to God and his forefathers.” (Rabbi Gino Bolaffi of Turin, May 20, 1934)

* Mussolini told the Austrian ambassador to Italy in 1932: “I have no love for the Jews, but they have great influence everywhere. It is better to leave them alone. Hitler’s anti-Semitism has already brought him more enemies than is necessary.” (Pg. 467)

* Hitler: “I’m convinced that there are Jews in Germany who’ve behaved correctly — in the sense that they’ve invariably refrained from doing injury to the German idea. It’s a difficult to estimate how many there are, but what I also know is that none of them has entered into conflict with his co-racialists in order to defend the German idea against them… Probably many Jews are not aware of the destructive power they represent.” (December 1941, Pg. 494)

* In the following months [after the end of WWI], back in Munich, he watched revolutionary events in the city, first led by the socialist (and Jew) Kurt Eisner and then the short-lived rule by German-style soviets, led almost entirely by Jewish revolutionaries. The Munich soviet dictatorship was itself inspired by the soviet regime in Hungary, again led by Jews. Atrocity stories about these soviet dictatorships, and even more about Bolshevik rule in Russia, began to spread widely in Germany…

Was Hitler referring to a fantasy Jew, wholly unrelated to real experience? Most Jews were not communists or socialists, nor were most “destructive” in the way Hitler understood the word, but on the other hand, it is also true that nearly everywhere Hitler looked at the end of the war, there were Jews who corresponded to anti-Semitic imagery…

At this very time Lord Milner, British secretary of state for war, circulated a letter calling for intervention in Russia: “We must not lose sight of the fact that this movement [Bolshevism] is engineered and managed by astute Jews, many of them criminals, and nearly every commissar in Russia is a Jew… Meetings of protest against intervention are composed of alien Jews…and in constituencies where there is a large Jewish vote, it has invariably gone to the extreme Socialist candidate.” (Pg. 495-496)

* …[S]ome Jewish leaders have expressed fears about the “desacralization of unspeakable suffering” that a scholarly study of the Holocaust, or any study by those who had not themselves directly experienced its horrors, might entail… Of course, the notion of Jewish suffering as “sacred,” placing it in a religious/mystical rather than secular/rationalist arena, implicitly removes it from history and normal historical inquiry… (Pg. 507)

* …modern anti-Semitism…can only be “described, not understood” (Rosten); non-Jews somehow lack the credentials to appreciate the suffering it has caused; if you haven’t experienced it, you cannot understand it. For some of those who reason in this way, it is not only morally abhorrent to attempt to enter the mental and emotional worlds of leading Nazis but equally so to invite readers to try to understand the minds and spirits of such men as Treitschke, Vogelsang, or Lueger, who did not call for violence against Jews, or even demand that their civil liberties be curtailed.

Lucy Dawidowicz has written that sympathetic understanding is necessary in order to write “genuine” Jewish history. Non-Jews — as well as “self-hating” Jews (her main target) — lack the required emotional closeness, the mystical “love of Israel”. Yet, in her approach to German history, the need for this kind of intellectual preparation is implicitly denied or turned upside down: In order to write “genuine” German history, she seems to think, hatred and resentment rather than sympathy or love constitute the appropriate state of mind. She makes precious little effort to understand the motivations of nineteenth-century nationalistic Germans; they are simply contemptible “other people.” To ask the question, “Might I or those with whom I identify have been capable of similar thoughts and actions?” is, again, implicitly relegated to a morally suspect status. Similarly, Sachar’s treatment of the Romanians is little more than a screed. (Pg. 509-510)

* Insofar as the purported uniqueness of the Nazi period or the Holocaust…and it is often difficult to make out what is actually meant by the term “uniqueness”, I cannot accept it as a valid or useful distinction, for I do not find the Germans uniquely contemptible, however appalling large numbers of them were… The Germans and Nazis were human beings, and the history they made can be understood by human beings just as other human history is understood. (Pg. 510)

* Hitler came to power in a legal manner and operated in ways that gave an appearance of respecting constitutional restraints. He and his lieutenants could plausibly boast, by the end of 1933, that the Nazi revolution was actually a humane one; it had cost the lives of fewer people than any revolution in history, several hundred at most — whereas the Bolshevik Party and the Cheka, in the hands of fanatical Jews, had heartlessly murdered millions.

Bloodshed in Germany remained minor until the eve of World War II… (Pg. 515)

* Hitler was almost certainly even more impressed with what had happened to one of his heroes, Henry Ford. In Mein Kampf Hitler had written that in the New York “only a single great man,” Henry Ford, had been able to stand up against the Jews, “to their fury.” In the early 1920s Ford had launched a campaign against the Jews in his paper, The Dearborn Independent; articles from it were eagerly translated into German by the Nazis. But Ford then apparently concluded that the “fury” of the Jews was indeed formidable, for a boycott of his products loomed, as well as lawsuits. He finally backed down, offering a formal apology to the Jews, even publicly burning some of his anti-Semitic works…

Ford’s capitulation to the economic power of the Jews, a power that appeared especially impressive when it could rally liberal opinion, can hardly have been unnoticed by the Nazis…

After World War I, the temptation of some Jews to exaggerate, or even make up atrocity stories, later exposed as false, had inured a number of observers to the charges of “wailing Jews”… Hitler played upon that discredit by charging the world Jewish press with making up atrocity stories about Nazi Germany (and most Germans believed, with greater justification, that anti-German atrocity stories from 1914 to 1919 had indeed been made up). (Pg. 520)

* A number of Jews returned to Germany after June 1934, since it appeared that the most powerful faction of anti-Semites in the Nazi movement had been crushed…

* Leni Riefenstahl’s famous propaganda film, “Triumph of the Will” (1935), contained not a single anti-Semitic reference, a puzzling lapse if hatred of Jews had been considered a useful device in attracting sympathy for the Nazi movement… (Pg. 522)

* If Nazi policy was simply to treat Jews as resident noncitizens… Jews could live with such a policy. It did not entail driving them from the country or stripping them of their property…

In speaking to a reporter from the United Press Hitler emphasized that the struggle against communism was one of the main reasons for introducing the laws: “Nearly all Bolshevik agitators…and agents of Bolshevism” in Germany were Jews, he stated. Moreover, during the Weimar years Jews had “flooeded the intellectual profesions,” exercising “everywhere a disintegrating effect.”(Pg. 524)

* Hitler’s own often-stated goals could be summarized as two: to establish Germany as a racially pure, unified people’s community and to assure living space for the future needs of the German volk…

Even Great Britain and the United States, in passing measures that were transparently designed to prevent further immigration of eastern European Jews, had demonstrated their concern to limit the numbers of Jews in their countries. (Pg. 525)

The notion of Esau’s Tears has many further complications, for if one may accurately speak of Esau’s tears being dried in Europe and the United States in the period since the Holocaust, it has been ostensibly at a large price, one that many Jews are finding profoundly troubling, since the process of Jewish-Gentile reconciliation seems to point toward large-scale intermarriage and the disappearance of Jews as a meaningfully separate group. Since the 1980s but especially in the 1990s, journals of Jewish opinion, whether traditional or secular humanistic, have been full of broodings and lamentations about what some Jews have termed the “bloodless Holocaust” of intermmariage and assimilation, or what other consider the “curse” of friendship that is replacing the older curse of enmity. The language used is both striking and strange: Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, in a weekly column for the Jerusalem Post, has contrasted the “candy-coated poison” of Gentile friendliness with the bitter poison of anti-Semitism. He states that it is an “open question,” which of the two poisons has been worse for the Jewish people, although it is obvious that he considers friendliness the greater present danger because it is more insidious…

Non-Jews may be bewildered to discover that their friendly attitudes are considered a covert curse… Friendly Gentiles are being compared to those who give poison to children or even to Nazi murderers… Given such enigmatic Jewish attitudes, efforts to understand anti-Semitism, to dry Esau’s tears, may appear ultimately futile — Sisyphean: Jews are anxious about being hated but also anxious about the implications of not being hated; they attempt to combat Jew-hatred but appear to believe that Jewishness inevitably and somehow mystically provokes hostility… They lament that Jews who try to “reform” find only intensified anti-Semitism, although the country with the largest population of Jews in the world — and also the most “reformed” — has seen a substantial decline in anti-Semitism. ….[U]ltimately the uncertainties about what it means, or should mean, to be a Jew are the real cause. (Pg. 533-534)

* …Jews exhibit an all-too common human failing: They actually do not want to understand their past — or at least those aspects of their past that have to do with the hatred directed at them, since understanding may threaten other elements of their complex and often contradictory identities… Germans are not the only people with uncomfortable pasts, nor have they been unique in their avoidances, although precisely what Germans are trying to avoid is believed by many Jews to be unique in some mystical sense. That belief in the absolute uniqueness of Jewish suffering under Nazi tyranny is not shared, or at least not understood, by those who consider the suffering of their own people in history to be equal to if not greater than Jewish suffering. The unseemly clamor in late twentieth century for the status of victim — and especially the greatest victim — is disheartening, with ruinous implications for all groups involved.

At the end of the twentieth century mastering the ugly American past of slavery and all it came to imply must qualify as a particularly pressing and imposing task for most Americans. In this regard, “most Americans” refers to Jewish Americans, for Jews unquestionably did trade in slaves, own slaves, exploit blacks, and harbor racist attitudes to them, just as many Jews shared the widespread racist attitudes to Slavic and Romanian “historyless peoples.” And those Jews who resist the notion of being held responsible for things that happened in the past, that only small numbers of Jews had anything to do with…are engaging in much the same kind of reasoning of those non-Jews who say that they have no responsibility for things that were done by their forefathers to Jews. At any rate, Jews cannot take collective pride in their famous scientists, artists, and humanitarians but then declare that Jewish villains and scoundrels must be considered as individuals, having collectively nothing at all to do with other Jews or Jewish identity. (Pg. 535)

* Should we expect people who are part of a victimized group to do any “mastering”? Black History Month is not much concerned with mastering uncomfortable realities — except those that others are uncomfortable about… Many Jews, like many African-Americans, are inclined to assume, often no doubt without really thinking the matter through, that their status as powerless victims means that they have nothing morally unpleasant about themselves to master — and suggestions that they might are made only by anti-Semites and Jewish self-haters, part of the old “blame the victim” syndrome. (Pg. 536)

* There are few if any examples of areas where the Jewish population rose above 5% that did not also see a significant expression of anti-Semitism. The countries of “happy exile” all had small Jewish populations, 2% or less. When the Jewish population nears 10%, as in Poland, Romania, and the Pale of Settlement, the likelihood of severe anti-Semitism is high.

The nature of the Jewish population, whatever its numbers, in a given country is also important in influencing that country’s attitudes to Jews. One particularly clear demonstration of that point is in the history of neighboring Hungary and Romania, where the relative numbers of Jews, as well as the rate of their growth, were roughly the same. In Hungary Jews enthusiastically took up Magyar language and culture and came to be recognized by ruling elites as beneficial to their country’s economic health and national power. In Romania, Jews resisted becoming Romanian and most ignored or even denigrated Romanian culture and history. Jews in Hungary were in various ways westernized and modernized, whereas Jews in Romania were more often hasidic and traditional-nationalistic. The acceptance of Jews by Magyar elites and the rejection of Jews by Romanian elites had something quite directly to do with the actual nature of Jews in each country, not simply fantasies about Jews, or the virtue of Hungarians and the vice of Romanians…

I have found no major figure who corresponds to the widely accepted generalization that anti-Semites do not know Jews… When Jews were perceived as useful, not harmful, the favorable aspects of a many-faceted Jewish imagery were more amply tapped; where Jews were seen as harmful, the unfavorable aspects were tapped. The old saw: “Is it good for the Jews?” has a revealing counterpart: “Is it good for the Gentiles?”

Supposed philo-Semites, men such as Churchill or Balfour, in truth much resembled men known as anti-Semites; whether purportedly anti-Semitic or philo-Semitic, these figures continued to harbor shifting, ambiguous images of Jews, some who were in their eyes beneficial, others who were harmful. (Pg. 537-539)

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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